Martorana fruit – the recipe from Cooks but good


Martorana fruit is a Sicilian dessert, prepared with almond paste. These are small colored sweets, similar to marzipan, but decidedly sweeter.
The base of the recipe is made exclusively of almond flour and sugar. The colorful martorana fruits are considered a work of art of Sicilian pastry making, the perfect imitation of various types of fruit, but also of vegetables.
It has the ability to amaze the sight as much as it delights the palate, and today it is the dessert that most brightens up the windows of Sicilian pastry chefs during the autumn period. Even at home, mothers and grandmothers organize themselves to amaze adults and children with these works of art.
Martonana fruit is a typical dessert for the solemn Feast of the Dead on November 2nd, or the commemoration of the deceased, a very heartfelt anniversary in Sicily. In fact, according to tradition, these sweets are found by the little ones to shorten the distances between them and their missing loved ones.
This delight, born in the Martorana convent in Palermo, is characterized by a very particular preparation that requires special equipment, but can also be prepared at home. It is said that the nuns, awaiting the Pope's visit, embellished the trees in the garden with the fruits they made from almond paste.
These small no-bake sweets are prepared cold or hot without substantial differences in the result: same consistency, same colors and same flavour. What changes is only the type of sugar and its processing. Preparing the dough is not difficult, but it is necessary to have the right tools at hand to shape the martorana fruit: plaster molds to shape the dough, brushes to color the fruit and food rinse aid to make it more polish the sweets.
The coloring of the martorana fruit is the most imaginative part of the recipe which, however, requires a little creativity and familiarity to obtain sweets similar to those of Sicilian pastry shops. A meticulous but rewarding job.
Martorana fruit is consumed as a sweet, just as if it were a “fruit” at the end of a meal or a tasty snack. These sweets are present not only during the holidays, but also for special occasions.

RECIPE

  • 500 almond flour
  • 400 powdered sugar
  • 60 g glucose
  • 1 vial almond flavour
  • 1/2 vial vanilla flavour
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon optional
  • 50 ml water at room temperature if necessary add 5 ml

It will also serve you

  • food colors yellow, green, red, brown, orange
  • amido q.b.
  • 1 95% food grade alcohol solution + water 50% alcohol and 50% water
  • brilliant shellac-based food paint
  • leaves for decoration
  • royal icing to taste for decoration
  • dark chocolate to taste for decoration
  • plaster molds

  • brushes of various sizes

  • disposable gloves

  • transparent film

Before starting, know that you will only need 5 minutes for the dough and 30 minutes of rest before kneading.

  • Making martorana fruit requires time, patience and good painting skills.

  • You can work by hand or in a planetary mixer using the leaf hook.

  • The plaster mold is generally one-sided, so you have to shape the other half manually, making sure that the two halves fit together perfectly.

  • Before being painted, the fruits must be left to dry for a whole night, to be easily handled.

  • We recommend using gloves when coloring.

  • Each layer of color must dry before it can be painted. Then, when the fruits are all ready, they should be left to dry for 1 day. Finally, they are polished with a food rinse aid.

Procedure

  • In a bowl, add the almond flour and icing sugar. Rub the two ingredients with your hands to mix them.

  • After a few minutes, add the glucose, vanilla flavoring and almond flavoring.

  • Pour the water onto the mixture little by little and knead for a few minutes, first with a spoon and then with your hands. It is important not to knead for a long time because you would obtain an oily mixture that is no longer usable. You should obtain a soft, malleable and non-sticky dough.

  • Create a cylinder-shaped dough, wrap it in cling film and let it rest for at least half an hour in the refrigerator.

  • Once the resting time has passed, begin to create the desired shapes: pass your hands through the starch for cakes and form spheres of various sizes with the mixture obtained, taking into account the type of mold you want to use. It is important, at this stage, to pass your hands through the starch several times to obtain very smooth and non-sticky spheres.

  • Brush the plaster form with starch (or cover the plaster form with transparent film), insert the sphere of almond paste into the mold until the empty space is filled, press well and close. The fruit will be, similar to the original fruit. Then remove the shape, place it on a cotton cloth or baking paper and remove traces of starch with a clean brush.

  • Before proceeding with colouring, the fruits shaped in this way must rest for a whole night, to dry and lose their “pongo” type consistency, and then be handled easily.

The day after

  • To color the almond paste, use food colors which must be dissolved in a 50% solution of water and food alcohol (or just alcohol). Add this solution little by little. We used a teaspoon.The advice is always to dilute the powdered color well in the liquid just before decorating the fruits, carefully dissolving any lumps that could alter the final effect. You can mix the colors together to obtain an even more realistic effect.
  • First apply a very light yellow base on all the shapes to standardize the subsequent colors and give a particular brightness, which evokes the warm sun of Sicily.

  • As soon as the base has dried, proceed with adding the other colors. Each layer must dry perfectly before being painted. You will have to wait until the top or bottom has dried completely. Try to work with shades and gradations, lights and shadows. Use the brush not only with a spatula but also with rotary movements.

  • Afterwards, when the fruits are all ready, you will have to let them dry again for at least 1 day. Finally they are polished with a food rinse aid to make them even more inviting and to make them storable for longer. You can use liquid shine using a dry brush, or spray shine.

  • Insert any decorations such as leaves or petioles and finish the various details with royal icing and melted dark chocolate in the microwave. Help yourself with a wooden toothpick. Your sweets are ready to be enjoyed.

If you prefer sweeter fruit, increase the doses of icing sugar and glucose. In this case 500 g of icing sugar and 75 g of glucose. If necessary, add a few teaspoons of water.
Martorana fruit can be stored for a maximum of 10 days in a closed container, since homemade fruit contains less sugar.

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